10.22.15 NLS Blog: Number 7. Explore, question, search and GROW !

Top 10 Countdown – What Every Early Childhood Educator Should Know

Number 7. Explore, question, search and GROW

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. – Rachel Carson

“Boys and girls, come quickly!” As the children came running, Miss. Karlen showed her 4-year old class a small, gray, fuzzy, oval thing. “Ew, what is that?” exclaimed one child. “I think it’s poop!” said another child. “Where’d it come from?” asked another. “I found it last night on a walk around my pond,” Miss. Karlen replied. “What is it?” one child asked. “Well, what do y​ou​ think it is?” inquired their teacher. The curious children took a closer look as the grey fuzzy thing was passed around. They touched it gently, peered closely, some even smelled it, all the while engaging their senses.

Miss. Karlen instructed her class to turn to their partners and tell them what they see. While walking around the class, she could hear excited chatter begin. “I see gray.” “I see gray too…. but look, I see white in there!”
After a few minutes of lively discussion, their teacher now asks them to turn and talk to your partner about what they t​hink​ the object is.

Miss. Karlen walked around again listening to their discussions. “I think it came from a cat.” said Gabby to her partner Shaun. She encouraged further discussion -“Tell Shaun why you think it came from a cat.” Gabby thought for a moment, ” My cat goes ‘argh, argh’ and one of those comes out of its mouth!” After a few more minutes of discussion, she then challenged each child to use their imaginations and w​onder​by asking her children to draw their ideas on post-it notes. After about a minute or so, she chanted
“Stop, look, and listen!” In response, her children playfully sang back “Oh yeah!” The children placed their post-it notes on an anchor chart at the front of the class.

After reviewing several of their responses, Miss. Karlen invited the children to the shared-reading center to s​earch​for the answer while listening to a big book together about owls. At the end of the book a child exclaims, “Look, it’s like ours!” Their teacher confirms the child’s excited outburst saying, “Yes, it certainly does look like ours, this is an owl pellet! Now let’s see if we can find an owl pellet outside!”

Research has shown that children learn best through exploring their world and making sense of it while engaging their senses. Dr. Senseny’s students were engaged in activities that were developmentally appropriate for her children in her class. With her help, the children used their senses to e​xplore,​ discussed their ideas answering teacher-led questions,​then they used the post-its to record their observations, and finally s​earched f​or their answers using informational text.

“When we guide students through the process of exploration and discovery and the resulting knowledge has real-world implications, that is authentic learning and t​hat w​ill serve a child for a lifetime.”
-Rae Pica


Bailey Bunch, National Lecture Staff
Shari Cussett, Friend of Gesell
special thanks to Dr. Karlen Senseny (NLS) for anecdote

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